A Visit To The Rum Distillery

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Rum and the Caribbean go hand in hand. There isn’t any other drink that will recall the quintessential Caribbean island setting quite like it. St. Lucia has a rich history of rum production and boasts a wide variety of different types and flavors. When my Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant let me know I could visit a genuine rum distillery and see how the entire process works as well as sample every variety of rum created there, I couldn’t resist!

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The creation of rum is highly connected to the organized production of sugar. The fermentation of molasses, the by-product of sugar production, is the first step to rum creation.

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At first, it appeared to me as if the molasses was boiling. I learned, however, that what I was seeing was the fermentation process in which yeast is introduced into the molasses to begin creating alcohol.

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After fermentation comes the distillation process. I was fascinated to discover that in order to create rum, the fermented molasses is sealed in a vessel that heats the liquid so the alcohol evaporates. The evaporated alcohol is then re-condensed and collected, ultimately becoming the raw rum spirit!

We also learned that each of the stills, (the primary apparatus used in the distillation process), can vary widely from one to another. Each variant can have a profound effect on the outcome of the rum. The distillation process can also yield a number of by-products that are useful in other industries.

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The raw rum spirit is often aged in barrels or infused with herbs, fruits, spices or juices to produce a specific type of flavored rum. It is also diluted with water to the specific alcoholic potency desired for its type of rum.

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Even though I was aware that many different types of rum exist, I was surprised to realize just how many and impressed that one distillery could create varieties so vastly different from one another.

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Here at the St. Lucia Distillers Group in Roseau Valley, nearly 30 different types of rum are made! We were able to sample a good portion of those which was both delicious and fun. After everything we had learned, it was even more fascinating to note the differences in taste, texture, sweetness, color and alcohol content of each!

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My personal favorite was the Nutz’n Rum, a deliciously sweet peanut flavored rum cream.

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I definitely left the distillery with a newfound appreciation for this amazing product and the wide variety of cocktails that can be created with it!

Is it any wonder that I spent some time at The Rum Cave afterwards learning how to mix some of my favorite rum cocktails?  And, in case you missed it, here’s a rum cocktail you have to try at home:  Capella Marigot Bay’s The Rum Goddess!

Enjoy!

How to Make Chocolate – Saint Lucia Style!

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Chocolate plays a major role in Saint Lucia.  There are festivals and even a month dedicated to its glorious properties.  At Capella Marigot Bay guests have the opportunity to learn how to make chocolate, a skill I definitely wanted to acquire for myself!  Fortunately, the task did not prove too difficult and I thought it would be fun to share the secrets with you!  After all, who can say no to some delicious chocolate?!

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You will need:

A pestle and mortar (preferably warm)

Cacao Nibs

Cocoa Butter

Sugar

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Place your cacao nibs into your mortar along with the cocoa butter. Grind the cacao nibs with the cocoa butter using the pestle. If your pestle and mortar are warm, this process will be much easier. The idea is to work the cacao nibs and cocoa butter into a smooth, creamy liquid. It is important to note that you cannot actually add any liquid to your chocolate. If your prefer milk to dark chocolate, use powdered milk. Liquids will cause your chocolate to separate.


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Now it’s time to add sugar to taste! The less sugar you add, the higher the percentage of chocolate! For the particularly health conscious, add less sugar or try substituting the sugar for organic stevia in granular form. Be sure to grind the mixture a bit more after adding your sweetener to achieve that desired silky consistency.

edit_MG_3012Once your mixture is free of cacao or sugar granules, you can pour it into a plastic tray and refrigerate or freeze it overnight.  At this stage, you can also add some goodies to your chocolate! I like adding salted almonds or cashews, pretzels, or dried fruit.  Experimenting with different flavors and textures is one of my favorite parts about this process. There is no limit to what you can create!

Now you’re ready to give it a shot and treat yourself to some delicious and healthy chocolate of your own creation! If you come up with an interesting combination of flavors I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to tweet me at @CapellaStLucia!

A Visit To A Cocoa Plantation in Saint Lucia

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Ah, chocolate! If you’re anything like me, it is more of a necessity than a luxury. Needless to say, I love treating myself to one of the many decadent chocolate desserts at Capella Marigot Bay. So when I found out I could visit a Cocoa Plantation and discover just how chocolate is made, I couldn’t resist!

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Our guide, Cuthbert, knew everything there is to know about cocoa! There are three different types of cocoa beans, Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario. Trinitario is a hybrid of the first two and Criollo is the rarest because the trees are not as robust. Forastero is the most common type of bean and is the one most commonly used in the chocolate we usually eat!

Cocoa beans grow only in tropical climates, making St. Lucia the perfect place to farm all three varieties! The pods can differ greatly in color from green to light yellow to dark red depending on the type. The color of the pod can also reflect its state of maturity.

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I was surprised to discover that the beans inside the pod are encased in a white pulp!

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In St. Lucia, they call these “Jungle M&Ms” because the pulp is actually delicious! I was so surprised when I tried it for the first time because the resulting tangy sweet flavor is incredibly enjoyable so Jungle M&Ms are now one of my favorite refreshing and healthy snacks.

But the pulp also plays an important role in the early process of cocoa creation because it helps the beans ferment.

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Once the beans have sufficiently fermented, they are placed out in the sun to dry.

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I was so impressed to see how diligently they keep the beans dry at this stage. Even the slightest sprinkle and the beans are covered immediately!

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I also learned that cocoa trees take 3 to 5 years to start producing pods and because of that, a horticultural technique called grafting is used to help trees grow faster and sturdier! I got to create my very own graft which was later planted in the ground and will one day become a productive cocoa tree. Visitors who create their own grafts get to name their tree!

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But before the grafts are transplanted for cocoa production, they live in a lovely little green house, where they are protected from the elements.

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While at the Cocoa Plantation, they taught me how to make my very own chocolate.  Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing that recipe with you next time!  But until then, treat yourself to some high qualit

y dark chocolate. Not only is it delicious, it’s also healthy. In a study done at the University of Copenhagen in 2008, they discovered that participants who ate dark chocolate had less cravings for junk food.  Chocolate is also high in antioxidants and theobromine, which can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.  The higher the percentage of cocoa, the better it is for you. Aim for 55% and above depending on your taste preference.  With so many health benefits, I guess there is no need to feel guilty about my chocolate obsession!

To plan your own cocoa tour, just let your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant know.  They will be happy to plan a visit to a cocoa plantation here in Saint Lucia.  Definitely a sweet experience!

Capella Marigot Bay’s Rum Goddess Cocktail

RumGoddessHere at Capella Marigot Bay, the baristas at The Rum Cave are renowned for their delicious cocktails both on and off the menu! But there’s one cocktail that has become a favorite among visitors and it is aptly named, The Rum Goddess.

When I tried it for the first time I was blown away. It’s refreshing and tropical, just like a Caribbean island! I asked Gavin to teach me how to make it, and I’m going to teach you here today:

RG1 Ingredients:
Fresh Mint
1 ounce Ginger Syrup
1 ounce Cream
1 ounce Coconut Cream
2 ounces El Dorado Rum
Angostura Bitters

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RG7Directions:
Place the mint, ginger syrup, cream, coconut cream and the El Dorado Rum together into the shaker. Muddle everything together so the mint releases it’s flavor!

RG8Next, add ice and shake very well! The shaker should get frosty on the outside.

RG9Strain ingredients into a glass.

RG10Now you’re ready for the bitters!

RG11Drizzle them on top and add a sprig of mint for garnish!

RG12Cheers! You’ve made The Rum Goddess Cocktail! Sit back, relax and let the flavors take you on a little escape to the Caribbean. And when you get a chance to visit The Rum Cave, we’ll have one waiting.

Spend A Magical Day At Sapphire Falls

edit_MG_1285Soufriere, the volcanic region of St. Lucia, is well-known for its gorgeous waterfalls and naturally occurring hot springs.  If you’re anything like me, tropical island vacations go hand-in-hand with some up close and personal time with a waterfall, so I am extremely excited to share Sapphire Falls with you!

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Nestled in a stunning, private area of rich foliage, Sapphire Falls is exclusive to guests of Capella Marigot Bay. Instead of following the vans of tourists heading to nearby Sulphur Springs, our guide, Jahrod, led us off the beaten path. We walked through a nature trail lined with native St. Lucian flora.

edit_MG_1270The walk was idyllic, as we passed some smaller streams along the way with mini-waterfalls.  Jahrod informed us that the water is dark because it is laden with mineral rich volcanic ash! Since it’s coming from La Soufriere, St. Lucia’s volcano, the water is warm!

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Arriving at Sapphire Falls is like entering a tropical dream-come-true. Everything you’d ever wanted to experience on a Caribbean island is right before you.  I found myself just wanting to take it all in.  After plunging beneath the waterfall and slathering our skin in mud from volcanic ash, we spent some time relaxing in the sulphur spring pool and taking in our surroundings while eating fresh mangos.

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To actually have a place like this all to ourselves and experience it without interference is such a rarity. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity. When you visit St. Lucia, you must go to Sapphire Falls! It will become a cherished memory and a wonderful bonding experience to share with your favorite people.

edit_MG_1310Pictured above is our guide, Jahrod. He is incredibly knowledgeable about all things St. Lucia. You will love meeting him!edit_MG_1280Everyone deserves to experience nature on this scale and I hope you have the opportunity to visit Sapphire Falls soon! Your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant will arrange all the details for visiting this stunning location.

In the meantime, I recommend pampering yourself with a mud mask either at home or at the spa! Your skin will feel rejuvenated and baby soft. Enjoy!

Discover Indo-Chinese Fusion Dining in Saint Lucia

masalabaySitting at the edge of Capella Marigot Bay’s Marina Village, lofted on the second floor with a stunning view of Marigot is one of my new favorite restaurants, Masala Bay!

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I visited the restaurant before it was open to the public and learned the cuisine would be Indian Chinese fusion. Having never before tried a fusion of my two favorite cuisines, I was understandably excited and to become Masala Bay’s first official customer when they opened their doors to the public!

final-IMG_8641I loved the look of Masala Bay right away. Bright and colorful with gorgeous Indian details create the perfect atmosphere. The owner, Chef Adil Sherwani, said he wanted the restaurant to “be a story, an experience.” And he has definitely succeeded!

final_MG_1398Dinner began how most great dinners should always begin, with excellent wine.  I ordered both Indian and Chinese dishes, wanting to fully experience the combination of these two cuisines.

final_MG_2881It was love at first bite. Each dish was exquisitely seasoned and full of flavor. The combination of these two cuisines couldn’t possibly be more harmonious. I was elated!

final_MG_1389In addition to the delicious food, the setting was beautiful. At our little corner table on the balcony, we watched the sun set over Marigot Bay. Some moments in life become exquisite memories.final_MG_2877Chef Adil Sherwani has created something truly special with Masala Bay. His other restaurant, Spice of India, is renowned as St. Lucia’s best Indian Cuisine restaurant. Masala Bay shares the attention to detail and high quality standards of Spice of India, but with a cuisine and flavor all its own!final_MG_1395The team Chef Adil has put together is as skilled as they are friendly and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for the lovely experience! final_MG_1409Head Chef Gorvind Joshi is not only great at running the back of house operations, he is also friendly, fun and outgoing. I thought it was so lovely to receive a visit from him at our table. We chatted a bit and his outgoing nature is evident right away, as is his sincere love and passion for the culinary arts! final_MG_1403I cannot possibly recommend the food and the experience at Masala Bay more highly! When you next find yourself in St. Lucia,  you must give it a try.  And be sure to visit Marina Village located within Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina for even more unforgettable experiences.

In the meantime, find the closest Indo-Chinese fusion restaurant to your neighborhood and treat yourself to a culinary journey! Living the good life means eating great food. That is the True Capella way.